I know, I know…you all must think that I only cook with the Crock Pot with two posts in a row that use this handy kitchen tool…I don’t. Although, I do love my Crock Pot. Here’s why: It has the uncanny ability to take flavors and meld them. It enhances flavors that need enhancing and mellows flavors that are overbearing. Not to mention the “fix it and forget it” factor. Yes, that is why I like my Crock Pot.
This lasagna is absolutely delicious. The flavors are earthy and down-home Italian and the recipe calls for no ricotta cheese. Yes, I know most Lasagnas use Ricotta. My husband is the odd one here; he hates the stuff. Shocking, yes, but true. How one can hate Ricotta the world may never know. But I must say that I actually don’t miss it in this recipe. This particular recipe calls for only mozzarella (and I add a little parmesean), and utilizes a combination of ground beef and sweet italian sausage. The carrots do a wonderful job of reducing the acidity of the tomatoes. Prep is quick, the lasagna noodles do not even have to be pre-cooked. It’s true! After 4 hours in the crock pot, the flavors are so mellow, subtle, and warming that I have to smile in satisfaction…and do the “I’ve cooked a good meal” dance across my kitchen.
Paired with a salad and some garlic bread, Lasagna night will become a hit in your household.
Crock Pot Lasagna
Adapted from an Everyday Food Recipe
My recipe varies slightly from the Everyday Food original in that I have substituted whole wheat pasta, upped the herbage and altered spices slightly, and added in some cheese variation.
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb sweet italian sausage, casings removed
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 medium carrots, chopped fine
1 small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stem
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1 box whole wheat lasagna noodles
3 cups low-moisture part-skim mozzarella
1-2 cups parmesean cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
If unable to obtain fresh herbs, you may substitute fresh herbs with 1 tbsp of italian seasoning
1. Begin to preheat your crock pot by plugging in and placing on low heat.
1. Prepare the sauce – Using a large pot over medium heat, brown sausage and ground beef, breaking into small bits. After cooked, add chopped onion, carrots, herbs, and red pepper flakes. Cook until onion turns opaque. Season meat with a small amount of salt (because the sausage is slightly salty on its own) and pepper to taste. After onion turns opaque, add can of tomato paste and stir until throughly mixed into meat and veggie mixture. Add can of crushed tomatoes. Turn heat down to medium, keep sauce over heat until bubbly. Taste, season with salt or pepper as necessary.
2. Assemble lasagna – Mix together shredded cheeses in a seperate bowl. Using a medium sized ladle, place 2 ladles of sauce in the bottom of your pre-heated crock pot. Place uncooked lasagna noodles on top of the sauce, breaking noodles as necessary to fit. On top of lasagna noodles, place 2 1/2 ladles of sauce, spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle the top of the sauce layer evenly with cheese, enough to cover, but a layer that is not too thick as well. Add another layer of noodles. Continue to layer 2 1/2 lades of sauce, cheese, and noodles until all sauce is used and you end with a sauce layer on top.
3. Cook Lasagna – Cover lasagna and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, until a knife pierces lasagna easily and noodles are cooked through. Do not peek until the four hour mark! The steam helps to cook the noodles. After lasagna is cooked through, sprinkle cheese on the top. Cover and cook another 10 minutes until cheese is melted through.
Hope you enjoy! And, yes, I think it would be perfectly fine if you still decided to use a little Ricotta in here. Maybe I’ll be able to convert my husband…one day. A girl can dream 🙂
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